A Brief History of Bogart

I met Seth Bogart at Vacation ATL in 2009. He was wearing a glittering bow tie, no shirt, and his coral lipstick and Freddie Mercury ‘stache cooed at and called out every decent straight boy in the room. His band Hunx and his Punx tore thru one bubblegum punk number after another, sassy laments about break-ups with boring boys who like Morrissey. In the time since, he's opened his own storefront Wacky Wacko, and held a recent art show of beauty products and huge papier mâché sculptures (like a RuPaul video set in PeeWee’s Playhouse). Bogart’s music took a backseat, or so it seemed.

Though attracted to art from a young age, “once I became a teen, I decided art was dumb and not punk,” he told us. Wacky Wacko is part of the full circle of Bogart getting back in touch with his art roots. (Not that there was ever a lack of aesthetic in Hunx’s album covers and slew of eye candy music video magic.) Bogart has been a busy bee in the fashion and art world, so busy that fans worried music was no longer a priority.

After an hiatus (with the exception of “Pink Christmas” with Ssion and Samantha Urbani), Bogart revealed his new musical path with “Eating Makeup,” featuring Kathleen Hanna,  and “Forgotten Fantazy” as released on Soundcloud (both reviewed by Wussy). Bogart’s smorgasbord of loved icons, musicians, and subcultures infuse everything from drawings, zines, and clothing designs, and his music is no exception. Like so much wonderful music made by solo artists, he initially demoed in his bedroom with a $50 keyboard from a thrift store.

The album came to fruition with help from Nite Jewel’s Cole MGN (the LA producer associated with acts like Ariel Pink and Julia Holter). Bogart, never without a crew, brought together a whole slew of rad collaborations as well. “My friends inspire me more than anything. Working on this album and live show and art installation that are all intertwined was the best thing I've ever gotten to be a part of. I couldn't have done that without my dream collaborators: JJ Stratford, who makes most of the videos; Christine Stormberg, who made a bunch of the big sculptures in the show and videos; Peggy Noland who makes most of the costumes and is an endless source of inspiration.”

On the album, traces of Bogart’s pop punk style still exist but in the electronic realm. He references French new wavers like teenie bopper Lio and the punky, glam Plastic Bertrand, and a song collab with Clementine Creevy of Cherry Glazerr called “Nina Hagen Daaz” (lol) attests to his adoration for the 80s decade. He samples Neneh Cherry, and the two songs with Chela are 90s gay bar bangers, especially“Supermodel” (which is similar to Rupaul’s “Supermodel”). From the “RuPaul for President” shirt to the DragCon booth with Peggy Noland, Ru’s influence is no shock: “I love RuPaul's music. I harassed her music producer and freaked him out at DragCon. I was in her fanclub and once a letter I wrote her appeared in the fanclub newsletter. I've loved Ru since I was like twelve and my gay uncle razor-bladed a giant RuPaul poster off a subway station wall and sent it to me.”

True to Burger Records, Bogart’s self-titled solo record is as ultra fun as is expected of the queer punk comic book character Bogart has portrayed, yet is also a distinctly fresh graduation into a more mature synthpop princehood. The video for “Forgotten Fantazy” is a vulnerable, wistful side of Bogart we’ve not seen before, the veneer of sass that glossed over most of his work tucked away in his old leather jacket pocket. Even his singing voice is less bratty, more bold.

My two favorites, “Barely 21” (a sweet duet with Tavi Gevinson of Rookie Mag in the style of a John Waters’ Crybaby sing along) and “Sunday Boy” (a reference to Blondie’s “Sunday Girl” mayhaps?) close out the record, injecting the dancey meat of the record with a final dose of heart. This record feels like a  more complete package of Seth Bogart, his enthusiasm and effort. You could argue it's the soundtrack to his life, including the softer side with no bars on the boldness of a beat. Are we seeing more of the real Seth Bogart? “The 100% real Seth Bogart,” he coyly replied.

Sunni Johnson, Arts Editor at WUSSY Mag, is an Atlanta musician and zinester.